always advocating

Wow what a week at work. I work a day job three days a week as an advocate for people with a disability.  Some weeks it’s absolutely exhausting, this week was one of them, hence no posts since Monday.  I’m so glad we’re into Thursday now and I can devote sometime to my work and to myself.  Last night I returned home exhausted and collapsed onto my bed, my dog Izzy my wonderful companion came and gave me a cuddle.  It’s great to have such a good friend.

I became an advocate, as I am a person with a disability, it’s a hidden disability, 20% of Australians have a disability and many of those disabilities are hidden.  I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, if my hands were deformed or I was having a flair up and my joints were inflamed you might see it, but I have been able to achieve a remission with medication for a number of years now, and so I am living a good life, relatively pain free.

I was unwell for many years living on a disability pension, and making my jewellery when I could. I completed a small business certificate and received a grant to work in my studio (which just happened to be my lounge room at the time) creating jewellery and selling through Australian galleries. I eked out an existence and continued to stay on the pension.  Eventually I felt well enough to return to the workforce and found a job in providing information to people with disabilities and their family friends and carers. I learnt about advocacy and learnt that the struggles I had endured and the work I did standing up for my rights was called self-advocacy.  I learnt about good advocacy services and what they offered to people with disabilities in Melbourne, and for the past 10 years I have worked in two of them.  The work is rewarding, though sometimes there are long periods and a lot of struggle between rewards. I worry sometimes about the impact of the stress on my health; it’s one of those times now. There is such a huge demand for our service that I can no longer keep up with the work, and there is so little support financially for our organization that we are unable to offer more than 19 hours per week. This is my stress.

After a good night sleep unfortunately I wake up thinking about my clients again. I need to clear my head, if it’s possible.  A friend rings me and says I sound very sleepy as though he has just woken me up, but I was in front of the computer writing to the local paper about the issues with our Internet service.  There’s never a moment of peace never a moment when we need to stop advocating for an improvement to this service or that, or to ensure that our rights are respected. It’s a sad indictment of our society that we are constantly required to do this. Why is it? I think it is because there is so little respect in the community and this has become generational and will continue to reoccur unless we can provide a better service and provide the next generations and their children with a better education. I believe that today’s children are born of parents who are so focused and caught up with themselves and whatever they are doing that they offer very little education to their offspring.  I find it very sad.  My Utopian dream to do myself out of a day job because change has occurred where advocates are no longer required seems to be slipping away.

To clear my head Izzy and I head off to the beach, just a short 5 minute walk from home. Izzy got up to her usual tricks of chasing sea gulls and being chased by other dogs.  While the weather was not superb beach weather a walk on the beach always helps clear some of the negative energy or fatigue I might be experiencing.  I couldn’t live anywhere else but beside the sea.

I found some beautiful colours of seaweed scattered along the beach, it is debris from yesterday’s storms, where wind was gusting up to 75kms an hour. Yesterday was a shocking summers day; Izzy and I were almost caught under a spray of sparks as we went for our morning walk. A gum tree both wet and wind blown came in contact with the power lines with such forces that it sprayed sparks across the road directly in front of us.  The power company assured me that the trees would be cut back yesterday though I’m still waiting for that to occur.

I remind myself when I have a difficult week at work that I need to change my day job, it is certain.  I need to make my business Katrina Newman Gold and Silversmith viable, and devote my energies and my creativity to this positive enterprise. Last weekend I enjoyed a visit to the Red Hill Markets with a girlfriend. I made time to talk with some of the people at the markets who were selling their work.  I believe that I will shortly make an application to sell through these and other markets around the country in an effort to change my day job.

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